Saturday, March 26, 2011

Art Journal Page: Trust Your Own Instinct

I finally got around to starting work in the fabulous Coptic bound journal I made last year.

I decided to begin with a reminder to myself that in times of great uncertainty, it's always best to trust my instincts. I will not let myself be motivated by the fears or doubts or others or even by my own healthy skepticism.

Instead, I will trust myself to make the best choices by listening to my inner voices, the ones that have delivered me into this life of joy and wonder that I live today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Technique Tuesday: Plastic Wrap Backgrounds

Nothing makes me happier than having a fellow artist or crafter ask me, "How did you do that?" I'm always more than happy to explain or illustrate the techniques I use to make my art. That said, I'm going to try to build a few step-by-step tutorials for some of my favorite techniques. I'm starting today with a fairly simple process for creating backgrounds using acrylic paints and plastic wrap.

What you'll need
  • background material (I used watercolor paper, but any dry surface that will take paint will work.)
  • liquid acrylic paints in two contrasting colors
  • water
  • paintbrush
  • plastic wrap (I used blue wrap here to get better contrast in my photos)
I started by applying a coat of Gesso to the watercolor paper to give it more tooth and let that dry completely. Then, using a wet brush, I covered the paper in the lighter color of contrasting paint (yellow). Allow that layer to dry completely. If you're impatient (as I am), you can use a blow dryer on low to speed the drying.
Once your background material is dry, use the same very wet brush to apply a layer of the darker shade of paint (red). It's important that you make the layer very wet because you're going to want to move some of that color around in the next step.
Working quickly, before the red starts to dry and turn your background solid orange, tear a sheet of plastic wrap about twice the size of your background and lay it on top of the wet paint. Now, use your fingers to push the plastic wrap around, forcing the darker paint to move into the folds and creases of the plastic.
Let the plastic wrap sit on top of the paint for a minute or so, then carefully peel it back. If you like the result you got, toss the plastic and let your background dry.
If you want to add more texture, simply drop the plastic wrap back onto the background material and push it around a little more. Feel free to bunch it up in places and flatten it out in others until you are happy with the patterns you see developing on the surface. You have about 5 minutes to move the paint around before the darker color starts to dry.
You can be as subtle or as bold as you like with this technique, making soft, swooping shapes or tight, angular spikes of color.

I use this technique often when I'm preparing papers to use in my visual journals. I hope you'll give it a try and let me know if this little tutorial was any help.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day

"Love is like pi -- natural, irrational, and very important." --Lisa Hoffman

If you don't know much about Pi and can't fathom why people get all excited and passionate about it, check out Pi Across America.

A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a video of some kid playing a song he'd composed by using the digits of Pi. I countered with this one, which I find hauntingly beautiful:

Enjoy the day, and don't forget to celebrate appropriately by having a piece of pie.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Art on My Door: Day #32

Art on My Door: Day #32
Art on My Door: Day #32,
originally uploaded by LA Smith.
I'm loving the daily commitment to make art for my office door. To be fair, I have skipped a few work days because I was sick or working from home, but for six weeks now I've slipped a new piece of art into that little frame.

What I love almost as much as making the art are the connections the art is facilitating with some of my co-workers. People stop by every day to see what's new. Sometimes the art leads to conversations about art, creativity, current events, things that connect us in way that work cannot.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review: Print & Stamp Lab by Traci Bunkers

Print and Stamp LabPrint and Stamp Lab by Traci Bunkers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I reviewed this excellent book a while back on & decided to share my thoughts here as well.

"One of my superpowers is that I can turn just about anything into an interesting stamp, printing block, or tool," writes Traci Bunkers, author of this thoroughly enjoyable and highly creative how-to manual that lays out cool printmaking projects for every week in the year. Each project comes with clear instructions, detailed materials lists, well photographed examples, and expert tips. Perhaps the most important thing that Traci brings to this book is a spirit of adventure, an artistic license that offers the reader permission to have fun and get funky with colors, textures, and patterns.

As an experienced printmaker, I was a bit skeptical whether this book was right for me, but I find Traci's projects engaging, her instructions clear and precise, and there's a little something on every page to inspire me to kick it up a notch and have some fun. She offers practical tips about foraging for materials in every unlikely "art supply" store you can imagine --from Home Depot to the Dollar Store-- and provides excellent suggestions for upcycling tired, old items into beloved art pieces.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Art Ninjas and Other News

So, I didn't manage to blog much while I was getting ready for my show at Cafe Luna, but I sure had a great time making the art. I also had fun at the opening, watching people leaning in close, almost aching to touch the pieces. That's precisely the effect I was aiming for.
"Just My Type" from the Cafe Luna show

Anyway, I found the experience delightful and intoxicating. I can't wait to do it again, so I'm marketing myself to all the cafes and galleries I think would be a good fit for my work. If you know of any venues in the Seattle area looking for artists to show their work, please let me know.

In other big news, I've had a piece of sculpture accepted into this year's Seattle Erotic Art Festival. I can't even begin to describe how surprised and honored I am to have a piece in this show.

I've been inspired lately by a couple of people I think of as "Art Ninjas," artists whose work and worldview I greatly admire.

First among these is Traci Bunkers, whose 30 Days of Carving blog adventure and excellent book, Print & Stamp Lab, have really put me back in touch with everything I love about carving, printmaking, and working in my visual journal.

The second Art Ninja inspiring me lately is Mark Montano whose latest book, Pulp Fiction: Perfect Paper Projects, is providing me with inspiration for a much-needed break from the world of metal tape and ink.